The In-Home Exercise Prescription: Ask Your Doctor for Yours

The In-Home Exercise Prescription: Ask Your Doctor for Yours

Did you know that doctors can prescribe more than just medication? A recent study found that 30 to 45 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise is a must for aging women. It’s time to ask your doctor for a prescription—for exercise.

In a recent article from, Professor Debra Anderson, from the Queensland University of Technology’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said “In addition to conventional treatments for physical and mental health, health professionals should be prescribing tailored exercise programs for older women.” Authors suggested that these programs should be “home-based and easy to incorporate as part of everyday activities.”

This means that along with the typical medication prescriptions, your doctors would be serving you well if they also recommended an exercise program. “When once we thought that 30 minutes of mild exercise a day was enough to improve health, research is now telling us that older women should be doing at least 30-45 minutes five times a week of moderate to high intensity exercise and by that we mean exercise that leaves you huffing and puffing,” Anderson explained. “Older adults who undertake regular physical activity also report significantly less disability, better physical function and that is regardless of their body mass,” she said.

That is great news if you currently own a home treadmill, elliptical, bike, or rower. But if you’ve been on the fence regarding an investment in home fitness equipment, this new study may push you forward.

The next question you should ask yourself is: Which piece of equipment will be the best choice for me? In an article by Barbara Russi Sarnataro, exercise physiologist, professor, and chairman of the Department of Exercise Science at Hanover College in Hanover, Ind. Bryant A. Stamford
explained, “When it comes to exercise and weight management, a good assumption is that if someone needs to exercise for weight management, they’re probably pretty easily turned off by exercise. The worst thing to do is to mold someone into something because people say it is the best.”

So let’s take a look at some pros and cons for each option of home fitness equipment—so you can start considering which machine will be the best for your needs. Sarnataro also quoted Nashville exercise physiology Kathy Alexander, who said it perfectly: “The best aerobic piece of equipment is the one you’re most willing to use.”

The Treadmill

“The treadmill burns the most calories of any of the cardiovascular machines available at most gyms,” said Alexander. “You can expect to burn about 100 calories per mile, walking briskly.”

By adjusting the speed and incline the treadmill “can be adapted to many different fitness levels,” explained Stamford.

Keep in mind that “Every time your foot hits the ground the impact forces are 3.7 times your weight just walking on the planet.” While most treadmills offer cushioning that helps to soften that impact, if you experience joint pain you may want to consider a lower impact option.

The Elliptical

“These machines pack a little less punch on the joints, and can be a good alternative to the treadmill,” said Matthew Vukovich, exercise physiologist and associate professor at South Dakota State University.

Plus, you engage a lot of muscle mass when using an elliptical, which boosts your calorie burn rate. And additionally, when you use the resistance arms, you can “further increase the number of calories you burn,” Stamford said. But if balance is a problem, you may want to explore the stationary bike offerings.

The Stationary Bike

“All our experts agree that the stationary bike offers the workout with the least impact on the joints. People with knee pain are often steered toward these bikes, since the impact of body weight is not a concern,” wrote Sarnataro.

The recumbent style is an especially great solution for balance concerns, injury recovery, and stability. The only downside is that “The stationary bike is a less intense calorie-burner than some of the other machines. You’ll need to pedal four miles to burn 100 calories,” Alexander added.

The Rower

You might be surprised to learn that the rower provides more than just an upper-body workout. “Rowers are more advanced cardiovascular machines” and “burn lots of calories.” Because you must push with the legs while you pull with the arms, rowers require coordination. They also require you to engage your core abdominal muscles to support and protect your back,” Sarnataro explained.

Great, right? The article didn’t mention that rowers are also pretty fun to use—but that is a major factor. Rowers are becoming quite popular around the world for just that reason.

Next time you find yourself in a check-up with your doctor, ask him or her to create a personalized home exercise program based on your history and goals. Then be sure to check out our full assortment at We’d love to help you pick out the best treadmill, elliptical, bike, or rower for your budget and needs.

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